by Linda Straker
- Youth Ministry be assigned increase in Budget
- Social Safety networks will not be affected by budget cuts
- 2020 budget had to be adjusted when Covid-19 was declared a global health pandemic
While most Government Ministries will be receiving reduced financial allocations for 2021, the Youth Ministry be assigned an increase when the Budget or the Annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure is presented on 2 December 2020.
“As we read the budget next week you will realise that while we are in a pandemic, while government revenues are lower than normal, while we are asking ministries to reduce or to have a cut in their budget, the Division of Youth will have an increase in its budget,” Kate Lewis, the Minister responsible for Youth, told a townhall meeting on Tuesday night.
“Thank you, Prime Minister, for giving us that extra amount of money, we know we have to be effective and efficient in its use,” Lewis told the meeting which was broadcast live via social media.
Social Development Minister Delma Thomas also told the meeting during the question and answer section, that the Social Safety networks will not be affected by budget cuts. “Next week is budget and you will hear more of what we intend to share,” she said, explaining that financial safety programmes are for those in dire need and not for people receiving a monthly pension from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
The 2021 presentation of the Annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure will be the first for recently appointed Finance Minister Gregory Bowen. He was assigned that ministry following a cabinet reshuffle in came into effect on 5 October 2020.
The 2020 budget was presented by Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in November 2019, but that budget had to be adjusted when Covid-19 was declared a global health pandemic weeks after the budget received Parliament approval.
Government revenues reduced to 50% during the early days of Covid-19 measures which included a lockdown with a state of emergency that expired on 17 October 2020. Revenue is slowly increasing but will still reflect a loss of more than EC$120 million according to a review of the monthly fiscal reports which are public records available on the Government’s website.
The presentation of the 2021 Budget will be following by its debate and approval by Parliamentarians in both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.